2009-10 TV Scorecard: The Best and Worst Shows and Networks

  • Publish Date: May 3, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 26 user comments

A step in the right direction

ImageSomething good is happening in New Orleans

Few people have the knack for pleasing critics all of the time, but David Simon appears to be one of them. The creator of The Wire, one of the previous decade's most critically-acclaimed programs, returned to HBO last month with his follow-up series, Treme 87. Set in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the ensemble drama is the 2009-10 season's best-reviewed new show.

Treme is not alone in receiving praise from television critics. Overall, the past television season appears to represent an improvement over the previous year in terms of show quality. The five broadcast networks combined to launch 34 major new shows in 2008-09, for an average Metascore of 51.7; during this past season, the same networks launched 38 new programs with an average score of 54.8. And the past year's highest-scoring broadcast show, Modern Family 86, was one of three new programs to surpass the Metascore of the prior season's top first-year program, the short-lived Life on Mars 74.

In a moment, we'll look at the best and worst new shows of the past season. First, we compare the overall performance across the five broadcast networks. While none of the networks consistently delivered, Fox and ABC were the best of the bunch.

Broadcast Network Quality Comparison (New Shows Only), 2009-10 Season
Network New Shows % Good % Mixed % Bad Average Metascore Score Change vs.
2008-09 Season
2008-09
Score Rank
1 Fox 6 33% 67% 0% 58.8 ↑8.4 4th
2 ABC 13 38% 46% 8% 56.8 ↑2.1 2nd
3 CBS 6 17% 83% 0% 55.5 ↓3.0 1st
4 NBC 7 * 29% 71% 0% 52.3 ↑6.0 5th
5 CW 6 17% 50% 33% 48.3 ↓3.0 3rd

* An eighth new program, the game show Minute to Win It, is not included in our calculations, because a Metascore is not available (due to insufficient reviews).

The 2009-10 season's best and worst new shows

Best Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Treme (HBO) Modern Family (ABC) Justified (FX) Men of a Certain Age (TNT) Archer (FX)
Critics: 87 Critics: 86 Critics: 81 Critics: 79 Critics: 78
Best Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 2 4 4
Image Image Image Image Image
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (ABC) Archer (FX) Justified (FX) Men of a Certain Age (TNT) White Collar (USA)
Users: 9.5 Users: 9.2 Users: 9.2 Users: 8.9 Users: 8.9
Worst Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
The Jeff Dunham Show (Comedy Central) High Society (CW) Hank (ABC) Fly Girls (CW) The Deep End (ABC)
Critics: 20 Critics: 34 Critics: 37 Critics: 39 Critics: 40
Worst Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
High Society (CW) The Jeff Dunham Show (Comedy Central) The Cleveland Show (Fox) The Marriage Ref (NBC) The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
Users: 1.0 Users: 2.7 Users: 3.5 Users: 3.6 Users: 4.1

American television series with seven or more reviews and debuting between August 2009 and April 2010 were eligible for the above lists. Shows are scored and ranked based on reviews published at the time of the original first season debut; returning series are excluded from these lists. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, shows are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores as of April 30, 2010.

The season's best new network and cable shows

The year's best-reviewed new comedy, on network or cable, was ABC's hit Modern Family 86. The best new network drama was CBS' The Good Wife 76, while the best drama overall was HBO's Treme 87.

Best Reviewed New Network Television Series, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Modern Family (ABC)Comedy868.6
2Glee (Fox)Comedy/Musical777.9
3The Good Wife (CBS)Drama768.1
4FlashForward (ABC)Sci-Fi726.7
5Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (ABC)Reality (Non-Competitive)719.5
6The Middle (ABC)Comedy707.6
7Human Target (Fox)Action708.2
8Community (NBC)Comedy698.1
9Life Unexpected (CW)Drama698.5
10V (ABC)Sci-Fi676.4
Best Reviewed New Cable Television Series, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Treme (HBO)Drama878.6
2Justified (FX)Drama819.2
3Men of a Certain Age (TNT)Comedy/Drama798.9
4Archer (FX)Animation/Comedy789.2
5White Collar (USA)Comedy/Drama788.9
6The Inbetweeners (BBC America)Comedy729.6
7Caprica (Syfy)Sci-Fi726.7
8Bored to Death (HBO)Comedy658.0
9The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO)Animation/Comedy628.2
10Sherri (Lifetime)Comedy627.0
Among other types of programs (anything that isn't a regular, ongoing series), the Oprah Winfrey-narrated nature documentary series Life 90 was tops among several titles earning universal acclaim from critics:
Best Reviewed Movies, Miniseries, or Specials, 2009-10 Season
  Title (Network) Type Netflix Metascore Users
1 Life (Discovery) Miniseries 90 7.1
2The Diary of Anne Frank (PBS) Movie 879.0
3The Pacific (HBO) Miniseries 878.2
4Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) (IFC) Miniseries 849.4
5Temple Grandin (HBO) Movie 849.7
6Occupation (BBC America) Miniseries  809.0
7You Don't Know Jack (HBO) Movie 799.3
8Endgame (PBS) Movie 77 n/a
9Emma (PBS) Miniseries 778.6
10Return to Cranford (PBS) Movie  769.0

Network performance

On the next page, we examine the performance of each broadcast network in greater detail.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (26)

  • Arg  

    Ok. Im not a fan of excessive advertisements (like most), but I think the links to netflix (which I had never seen, and could be late to the party...) is f'in awesome! Especially since there are a lot of shows on these lists that I would want to watch, but would forget the names of. Smart and non-annoying way to pad the bottom-line.

  • jim  

    breaking bad isn't a new show

  • I_Am_M450n  

    No "Breaking Bad" or "Rescue Me"?

  • Alejandro  

    Hey what happened to "Breaking Bad" http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/breakingbadseason3 and "Party Down" http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/partydownseason2 both really high scores

  • Celoriu  

    @Corey: Metacritic is actually posting reviews and metascores for EVERY episode this season!! They put them here at Metacritic Features. Here's all the scores up to 6.13: http://features.metacritic.com/features/2010/lost-review-season-6-episode-13/

  • bb  

    Good job, metacritic! You're always so proffesional.. Oh, oops!! ...http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/breakingbadseason3

  • Sean  

    Community and White Collar are my favorites... glad to see the users liked WC but where is Community?!

  • Matt Cronin  

    Great lists as usual. I'm about to start watching Trème and Justified, I hear they are excellent.

  • Lin  

    In my opinion, Community is way funnier than Modern Family. But MF is good as well.

  • Chris L  

    I have to say, Human Target, Treme, and Spartacus: Blood and Sand are the best new shows of the season!!! Flash Forward is doing good as well, and it's good to see it's stopped trying to be a clone of Lost.

    Lost is hopefully leading up to a spectacular series finale and the final season has been great so far. Fringe and Castle are both continuing to improve in their second seasons and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with their third.

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